Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Graduate: Lara


Name: Lara

Age: 21

Where and what did you study?
BA Journalism at University of Roehampton

Why did you decide to go to university, and why Journalism?
I went to a very academic sixth form which pushed the idea of going to university. With hindsight, I didn’t explore other options as I didn’t feel as if there were any. When it came to applying for UCAS, I initially chose to read English Literature. However, I was inspired to change to journalism after completing some work experience at my local radio station. I simply fell in love with the excitement and fast paced nature of the news room. My first day on placement there really sticks out for me, as it was the day that Margaret Thatcher died.  The presenters threw me in at the deep end and sent me into my local high street to get vox pops of people’s reactions. Yet by the end of the week, I was researching about a kitchen fire at KFC, so that just gives you an indication of how different everyday was. Though I doubt that broadcast radio will be my future career path, this placement helped me to decide on my degree choice and gave me my first insight into the media industry.

Do you think your degree will be instrumental in helping you forge a career?
I think that my qualification will be a helping hand throughout my career. However, work placements and networking are equally as important in the media industry. Get as much work experience as you can – take advantage of those long university holidays! It may feel like your lecturers are just saying it, but in this industry it is all about who you know. Build your work ethic now and you will thank yourself come graduation. 

Clubs and societies can also demonstrate that you are a well-rounded prospective journalist with lots of interests. Societies look good on paper but don’t forget the basics. If you really want to go into the profession, make sure you’ve done some work on your university magazine or newspaper - editors will expect this from journo graduates.

What work experience have you done, and what do you think you learnt from it?
As I said earlier, my first ever work experience was at a radio station in Norfolk. From then, I have gone on to do work experience at a local newspaper, as well as my university magazine and radio station. During the last year of my degree, I worked really hard to gain work experience with some industry worthy names in a bid to make myself more employable. After what felt like hundreds of rejections, I ended up doing placements at Sainsbury's Magazine and Square Mile Magazine. Helping out on these publications allowed me to fine tune my editorial skills and gave me a real insight into how magazines run day-to-day. With the help of my university, I also managed to bag some work experience a Redwood - Inspiring Content. Redwood looks after the online content and marketing for a number of big names including Barclay's and Boots Beautiful You. I helped out on both of these accounts, and the experience allowed me to enhance my sub-editing, social media and general admin skills. Going into the workplace definitely prepares you for life after university and teaches you practical skills which are often overlooked in lectures. 

What are you doing at the moment?
Since my last essay hand in, I have been enjoying a much needed break which included a spontaneous city break to Prague. I have moved back in with my family, for some thinking time, whilst I search for my first ‘real’ job. I am so grateful for the space as it has allowed me to do some soul searching, socialising and reading. I have also been doing the odd bit of freelance writing, in the hope that the extra experience will help me become a better writer and help me on my way to reaching my career goals.

What is your dream job, and how obtainable do you think it is?
I wouldn’t say that I have worked out what my dream job is yet. However, I would love my first job to be in the publishing industry. I am currently applying for editorial assistant positions but I am interested in any opportunities within journalism, social media, marketing or publishing. 

What advice would you give to other budding journalists?
I have touched on this already, but I cannot stress enough the importance of work experience.  Despite doing a number of internships myself, the importance of networking has been the biggest eye opener for me post-university. Try to establish some professional networks before you head out into the highly competitive world of journalism. With this comes the obvious advice; practice your craft and read/watch news. Follow both sides of any story so you can strive towards objectivity.

If you weren't involved in journalism, what would you do instead?
Honestly, I have no idea! In the past, I have considered teaching English as a foreign language, but I suppose we will have to watch this space…


Lara, the journalism graduate.
Freelance writer and aspiring journalist.
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